If you thought this Ohio State football team was an improving bunch heading into the Maryland team, what it did on Saturday with a 66-17 victory over the Terps only solidified that line of thinking. The Buckeyes rolled up tons of offense, played more than adequate defense, and got a lot of guys in the game to take part in a laser light show in the ‘Shoe for homecoming.
But what can we take away from this game? Was it more about the opponent or more about how this OSU squad is starting to become the team we all that it would be to start the year?
After every game, we go back and try to review five things that stood out as takeaways from the game, and with a bushel of points, touchdowns, and yards, there’s a lot to walk away from with this one as well.
Here are five things we think we learned while watching Ohio State’s impressive win over the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday.
This is a different Ohio State team than what we saw against Oregon
Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Haskell Garrett (92) makes a tackle of Oregon Ducks running back Travis Dye (26) in the first quarter of their NCAA Division I game on Saturday, September 11, 2021, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
I know Oregon fans will beat their chests the rest of the year knowing that the Ducks came into Columbus and beat Ohio State — and rightfully so. However, if you watched that game, and then have been on board for the improvement we’ve seen over the last few weeks, it’s clear that this is a much better Buckeye squad. The coaches are figuring out what guys fit into the machine, the players are learning their roles, and the result has been a much more aggressive and explosive team. Play Oregon again and it’s a different game. I’d lay money on it.
Pick your poison against the Ohio State offense
Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Garrett Wilson (5) makes a touchdown catch against Maryland Terrapins defensive back Tarheeb Still (12) during the first quarter of their NCAA college football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on October 9, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
You’d be hard-pressed to find another team in the country that has the weapons and versatility of the Ohio State offense. There’s a reason why the Buckeyes lead all of FBS in yards per play. TreVeyon Henderson and the running game have been a revelation, and we all know how talented the wide receiver group is. Mesh all of that with quarterback C.J. Stroud becoming more confident and productive, and if you are a defensive coordinator, what kind of game plan can you come up with. You can’t take it all away, and OSU is going to burn you one way or another.
It's time to enter C.J. Stroud into the Heisman conversation
Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) looks the throw the ball against Maryland Terrapins during the second quarter of their NCAA college football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on October 9, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
I know C.J. Stroud is already on the fringe conversation in some Heisman circles, but it’s time he gets a real look at being right in the mix. He has become one whale of a quarterback under Ryan Day, and continues to improve as each week goes by. He seems to throw out an easy 300-yard day against any and all competition, but more than anything, he’s reading defenses and making the right decisions with precision passing now. He went for over 400-yards today in three-quarters of play, and he might just need a spotlight game type performance like that to really have everyone take notice.
Ryan Day is the anti-Jim Tressel
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day walks into the stadium before his team plays an NCAA college football game against Maryland Terrapins at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on October 9, 2021. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
You’ll never get a Jim Tressel bashing on this free website, but after going through the Tressel era of leaning heavily — OK, very heavily — on defense, ball-control offense, and special teams, it’s wildly entertaining to watch a Ryan Day coached ball club. He’s ultra-aggressive, often shunning field goal opportunities and punting scenarios to put pressure on the opponent, and you have to love it. There’s a multitude of reasons why kids want to come play for Day at Ohio State, and his willingness to put on the proverbial leather jacket and let his hair down in crucial situations is just one of them.
Move over Penn State and Iowa, Ohio State is still the flag-bearer of the Big Ten
Oct 9, 2021; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Garrett Wilson (5)celebrates his touchdown on fourth down during the first quarter against the Maryland Terrapins at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Heading into this game, both undefeated Iowa (No. 3) and Penn State (No. 4) were ranked higher than Ohio State (No. 7). However, if those two teams — OK — you too Michigan — have been anywhere near a television set or streaming device, they couldn’t have missed how dominant the Buckeyes are looking. OSU has the most talent of any team in the Big Ten and it is now all coming together. As we sit, right here, right now, my money is still on Ohio State against any team in the league. I don’t know that we could have said that two or three games in, but we can now without getting sideways glances.